Tag Archives: fall

bits and pieces

lettucepeppers kimchi

dye

witches halloween boy

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I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog lately, but fall seems to be my busiest time – with children, activities, work, business, etc.  I got a pulled into what felt like chaos and hectic-ness.  But, I am feeling a bit better now.  A bit more grounded.  I think I am ready to head into the next set of holidays (which I love) with more peace.

But, first, some of what we’ve been up to . . . .  This fall was lovely and quite warm and wet.  I’ve had lots of lettuce in the garden (it may have been killed back by the freeze yesterday), as well as green, carrots, and beets.  I bought some of the last peppers at the farmers market the other week. I roasted them (and the last of my jalapenos) and froze them.  I also made my version of kimchi – I love it’s spicy, sour, hot flavor on just about anything, but especially on grilled cheese sandwiches.

I’ve also been making rope bowls (I’ll post a picture soon) and dying some of the rope.  I dyed a batch with turmeric, but my favorite has been with black walnuts.  I just love the brown that black walnuts make (though I hate black walnuts for eating) – I find the color really beautiful.

We had a great Halloween.  Normally, I refuse to make or buy costumes for Halloween.  I feel like we have enough dress up clothes that they can find something or make something themselves.  But, this year the three oldest wanted to be characters from Harry Potter (Hermione, Fred, and Luna), so I sewed the robes and bought patches to put on them.  I even made wand pockets inside the robes.  I figure they will probably get lots of use other than this holiday.  And, they had such a good time playing in them, I felt good about spending the time and effort to make the robes happen.  Steven did not want to be a Harry Potter character so he dressed up from the “dress up box” (as a race car driver).  Trick-or-treating in our rural neighborhood took 3 hours and we only made it to 13 houses.  As we are usually the only trick-or-treaters, the kids get nearly all the candy at each house, so they do get lots.  The long time is because we drive to each house, visit for a short bit (occasionally have an adult beverage), and then load back into the van with cousins (7 children, 4 adults).  This Halloween, most of us somehow ended up bushwhacking, as darkness fell, over a nose ridge to get to another house instead of getting in the van.  That definitely affected our timeline since we got a little lost, left a trail of candy (all the children fell down multiple times, spilling the candy buckets), and lost one shoe (one of Steven’s best pair – it got snagged by a branch and we could not find it).   It was an adventurous and fun time.

Soccer season is over for now, and they all enjoyed playing, but especially Anne.  I did not get to watch many games, but I did make it to Anne’s last one where she wore a mama-knit hat while playing.

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Finally, these warm fall days have kept us outside as much as possible.  We are playing, going on walks or hikes, and even making it on some horseback rides.  This is my favorite kind of weather – just warm enough to be outside and active in shorts.  And, the afternoon light (and morning light) is so beautiful.

Also, for a little humor.  Hythe came home with this note he wrote to me in his Kindergarten class the other day.  I love seeing these early writing attempts.  They are precious, even if this one is slightly chastising!

note

Dear Mom, Please do not send any more pears.  from Hythe

*I’d packed sliced pears in his lunch for the second day in a row.

in the garden, october

grrens

pepprrs

marigolds

salad

pears

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Fall is definitely here – on the trees, in the meadow, in the garden.  We have had some pleasant fall weather of warm days and cool nights, but we also had 11 days of nearly continuous rain.  We needed the rain, but the last 3 chilly days of it pouring down were disheartening.  The sun has come back now and I am back in the garden a bit.  Mainly to pick greens, but I did some weeding after all that rain, too.  The greens are plentiful and delicious.  I am eating salads nearly everyday, and collards and kale are showing up in most suppers.  I will freeze some soon so we will have them through some of the winter too.  I’ve got quite a few jalapenos in the garden still – and the plants have started blooming again!  Of course, they will be killed by a frost before any baby peppers have even form, but they are pretty with the red peppers and white blooms.  And, my marigolds, scattered throughout the garden are vibrant now.  I may need to get out and pick some for a dye bath.  Finally, the pears are coming down fast in the large tree by our house.  I hope we’ll make cider this weekend.

 

good (Sunday) morning

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Such a gorgeous morning today.  Perfect for a late-ish breakfast outside just after the sun came over the mountain.  Today, and for the next few days, we’ll enjoy that perfect fall weather – not too cold during the day- warm even, chilly at night, with lots of sun.  I am planning to enjoy it.  Hope you do too!

The children started out playing pretend games outside (with a few of their new acquisitions, Amanda!).  Then,we biked and played and cleaned and visited and enjoyed each other and a few friends.  I even got a few minutes to read my own book by myself on the porch swing – such a treat.  A great way to spend a Sunday.  It made me remember that important idea of Sunday as a day of rest.  Despite all of what we did today, it really felt like a day of rest.  And, I needed that.

weekend excitement

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This past weekend began with the excitement of Halloween.  All the children were anticipating dressing up and deciding what exactly they were going to wear.  Since the weather was turning cold, we also had the challenge of what to wear with the costumes to stay warm.  Anne was still debating what she was going to be on Friday and even changed clothes/costumes halfway through trick-or-treating.  She started as a German bar maiden, but after she got a very puzzled expression from the first person who asked her what she was, she changed her story to “Laura Ingalls” and got rid of the beer stein.  Halfway through the night (after the horseback ride), she changed into regular clothes and said she was a teenager, hippy, or spy, depending on who asked her.  Evva, was of course, Pippi Longstocking – her current favorite book character.  Hythe went as a race car driver, and Steven as a bee (costume courtesy of a friend and neighbor).

Evva asked a few weeks ago if they could go trick-or-treating on horseback.  Anne and Hythe were enthusiastic and I got it arranged with William’s aunt to borrow a few of her horses.  It was a fun little ride (William and I actually walked–good exercise!) and they made it to 6 houses and the farm store.  Since we left early enough to not be riding in the dark, we ate supper after putting the horse back at the barn, and had time to caravan with a group of friends to the rest of the neighbors who were just a little too far to ride horses to.  Lots of candy was got by all!

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We woke up the next day to this:

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Nearly 3.5″ of snow – and it snowed all day, though the temps were above freezing so the snow on the ground melted as more floated down.  It was a beautiful overcast day and the children had lots of fun playing in the snow.  I stayed inside much of the day, cooking and cleaning – but, I did get out for a few walks to enjoy the fall/winter scenery.

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We had a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) party on Saturday night with lots of friends making it over despite the cold.  Everyone brought a dish to honor a dead loved one.  It was fun and special and made me remember how much I enjoy being with friends – and how it takes effort to make those gatherings with friends happen in our full busy lives.  I want to do it more often.

My favorite view from inside the house is this sink.  Nearly always surrounded by dishes to be washed or put away – typical in this household of many eaters.  But that view makes it much more enjoyable to complete those tedious tasks.  (we need to get some bird seed!)

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in the garden update

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I have not been doing a lot in the garden for the last few weeks, besides harvest some things.  It really does slow down for us here with all the summer crops gone and the fall ones planted and growing.  Weeding is minimal, there are very few bugs, we’ve had plenty of rain.  There is just not a lot to do.  Which is nice.   I like to just enjoy the fall colors and green garden.

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I’ve been pulling out turnips and carrots, mostly.  There are lots of carrots and turnips – with a lot still in the ground.  Hythe loves to come help me pull up the carrots.  He has his own bag of them in the refrigerator.  But, the turnips are a bit of a problem.  I like turnips pretty well, but William and I are the only ones in the house who don’t completely hate them.  I’ve cooked them every way possible – soups, roasted, boiled and buttered, braised.  The children do not like them.  And, to be honest, after a few days, I am pretty tired of them too.  Unfortunately, I planted a LOT of turnips in the garden.  I am contemplating using some of them as winter cover crop for the rows they are on and just not pick them.  I picked a few the other day and put them in the root cellar to see how they store.  I even carved a couple of them, with Hythe’s help, into tiny Jack-o-Lanterns (which the dog promptly ate  when walked away – at least HE loves them).  So, have any suggestions for turnips?

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*By the way, it looks like two of our garden pumpkins have survived long enough to be carved for Halloween!*

This week the seed garlic arrived.  I ordered it the week before when I realized I had not done so yet and it really was time (or past time) to plant.  This year, I just got hard neck garlic.  In the last two years I’ve grown soft neck which you can braid and they keep fairly well.  But, I want to have garlic scapes in the summer and have slightly less cumbersome bulbs to store (i.e. no long leaves to clean and braid).  We’ll see how it goes.  They are now in the ground, with Steven’s help.  The day after we planted garlic, a large order of narcissus and other spring flowering bulbs arrived from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.   William will may be horrified, but I think I ordered nearly 100 bulbs!  Now, I need to get digging – but first figure out where to plant all these bulbs.

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cider making (with pears), a tradition

Every fall for the last few years, William, the children, and I take parts of a few days to make a few runs of cider. We live beside an unsprayed apple orchard which often provides plenty of fodder for the cider press. This year, we made one cider run a few weeks ago and I thought that might be all we would do. The apple crop was not great, but we had enough to make the cider and for me to make 20+ quarts of applesauce. We have also been quite busy this fall with kids soccer, work, camping, and out of town trips.

But, on Sunday morning William mentioned there were a lot of pears on the ground. Let’s make cider – I said. And, he agreed.

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We have a large, stately, and beautiful pear tree near our house that in the spring is white with blossoms (when we call her the Snow Queen) and in the fall drops large, hard, tasty pears – deigning to allow us her fruits. And, she yields wonderfully every year there is not a late freeze.

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I picked up four bushels of pears with Hythe helping me (Evva would not help claiming the yellow jackets were too dangerous – so she played fairies in the grass). You have to watch where you put your hands when picking up the pears, but most looked good having been knocked down just a few days before by an all day rain storm. I always feel these pears must look like the golden apples that Atalanta stopped to pick up during her fateful race.

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We finally got around to cider making fairly late in the afternoon, when the weather quickly goes from warm to quite cool, so I packed up coats and sweaters, knowing that cold children (and mamas) can be really unhappy. This was supposed to be a family activity, but right after we picked up the pears and arrived at the cider press (at Hickory Nut Gap Farm), all the children disappeared. Anne, her friend, and Evva rode off on bikes and Hythe almost immediately rode off on a horse (with his great aunt and cousin). We were left with a grumpy Steven, who kept pointing at the road and demanding “home”. So, we decided that I would set up and start grinding the pears and William would go get beer, and we would enjoy this moment, by gosh!

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And, we did. The three girls showed up in time to help finish grinding pears, to press, and to clean up. We use an old grinder and press that William’s grandparents had made and used for years. It is the only press I’ve ever used. I made cider on it the first time 17 years ago.

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The pressing went very easily and quickly, and clean up was fast. And, we ended up with 12 gallons of pear cider. It is probably because we make this ourselves, but I think this cider is the best! We freeze it and enjoy ice cold cider all year. I do love this tradition that we are making.

autumn

I often post a “this moment” on Fridays.  As Amanda from SouleMama says, it is a simple, special, extraordinary moment I want to pause, remember, and savor.

The whole of autumn (and spring, too) feels that way to me.  I want the colors to pause, I want the weather to stay cool, but not cold, with warm days and blue skies.  I want to savor the colors, temperatures, and beauty of fall.  But, fall also feels sad to me, as spring does not.  There is a feeling of loss, death, and good-bye that is just-this-side of gloomy and depressing.  The colors and perfect weather are fleeting.  Soon the mountains will be grey, outside will be cold, and the sun won’t peek over the top of the mountain until late morning.

But, today I am going to savor the fall, and share a few pictures of “this moment”.

 

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garden update: into the fall

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We might have one more pumpkin in the field left to pick and a few winter squash.

Flowers are still producing well–and I enjoy getting down to pick them–nearly all zinnias this year. Such cheerful flowers.

We’ll probably pick the popcorn soon. Hythe is nearly desperate to do it and points out each time we are near the garden that “the corn is dead”.

The first turnips have been picked. Look at those greens–so many and so beautiful! I froze the greens to eat this winter, but I’m planning to cook the turnips tonight with bacon and onions.

Hythe got the first carrots out of the garden. Little baby ones, which he disdained after tasting. They are a little bitter at this point. But, it helps to thin those carrots a bit.

We are eating salads from the garden again (and still outside)! Lots of arugula and a little bit of leaf lettuce so far. I hope the rest of the lettuce I planted comes up. I put in a large row of an unknown lettuce seed (which I found at the bottom of my briefcase), but I am afraid the seed was not good. It has not come up.

The radishes are huge! They grew so fast with the wet warm weather. I’ve picked nearly all I planted and not knowing much else to do with a lot of large pretty radishes, I pickled them! These pickles are so delicious, especially with meat (especially BBQ pork), and they will last all winter in the refrigerator. Not only delicious, these pickles are beautiful, but they are a bit smelly (pungent-good smelly, but smelly). Recipe below.

Also, my ginger lilies are blooming. They don’t always make it here with our cold weather, but I’ve found a protected place for these with full sun and they are happy. The scent is heavenly! Plants, thanks to Nita (an almost-aunt) who is one of my gardener inspirations.

Recipe for Pickled Radishes (update):

Put in a jar:
3.5 cups sliced radishes
1 sweet onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic

Make brine and pour over radish mix:
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 star anise
1 tsp coriander seed
1 bay leaf
3 tsp kosher salt

garden update and swap

turtle head

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goldenrod

ironweed

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As much as I hate to admit it, things have turned to corner toward fall in the garden and in nature. Apples are ripening, the fall flowers are out (my favorite color combinations), the summer garden is dying off and the fall garden is getting greener, and pumpkins are being harvested! The fall flowers are the best! The meadow by our house is full of goldenrod, ironweed, cardinal flower, Queen Anne’s lace, turtlehead, and others. It is truly glorious.

I’ve harvested about a half bushel of acorn squash and a few butternuts, but the piece de resistance (excuse the omission of the accents) was the first large pumpkin from the garden. Unfortunately, it looks like these pumpkins will all be ripe well before the jack-o-lantern making time of late October–which was the reason Hythe wanted pumpkins in the garden in the first place. We might just have to have September jack-o-lanterns. I’ve explained it and he seems ok with that. He is also looking forward to pumpkin pies–as the first pumpkin had a few rotten spots on it, so it only stayed on the porch for a few days before going in the oven. I’ve been making quite a few apple tarts (or galletes), and now the children are expecting pies every night. But, fresh apple sauce is sufficing.

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Found these in the garden, left after I picked them up empty from a house and then went to weed the garden. They got left and have been “decorating” the garden since. I need to get them to the recycling bin, but I like the stories I can make up in my head when I see them about why they are in the garden.

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Turnips, carrots, beets (those rabbits have munched two rows and I’ll need to replant), lettuce, and radishes are coming along very well. The potatoes have all died now, and we’ll dig the rest this week, I think.  I need to do some weeding too!

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Finally, I put together a package for a blogger in Alaska last week and mailed it off. I was participating in a blog swap organized by Amanda. I did this in the spring as well, and it was lots of fun to think up homemade gifts to send. This time, I sent flower seeds from my garden (larkspur, poppies, calendula), some walking onion sets (not sure how they will do in Alaska), a lavender sachet, garlic-herb salt (made with garlic and herbs from the garden), soap, and a hand salve.